An office tribunal is the name given to the legal process through which an employer and their employee can resolve a dispute relating to the alleged breach of employment rights. This includes cases of unfair dismissal, discrimination or redundancy. The evidence presented at an employment tribunal will be considered by an independent adjudicator who has no bias to either party and who will make a legally binding decision based on the information provided in the context of employment law.
Employees who have encountered discrimination at work or believe that they have been unfairly treated in the workplace can raise a claim against their employer. It is unusual for a case to go directly to tribunal as it is preferred that attempts at mediation are conducted prior to pursuing the legal route.
An unhappy employee should first discuss their concerns with someone senior in their line management chain, and if this proves unsatisfactory, present the case to their HR department and, if necessary, their Trades Union representative. Should this process prove unsuccessful, the case can be referred to the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) who will assess the case and evidence to determine whether a claim should be moved to an employment tribunal.
It is important to remember that the timeline to raise a case to employment tribunal is three months less one day from the date on which the incident occurred, so proceeding in a timely fashion is of the essence.
Either party can decide that they wish to claim their costs back from the other party, and in this case, it is essential that an employment tribunal costs warning letter is issued in good time. An employer who issues a disgruntled employee with an employment tribunal costs warning letter usually does so with the intention of agreeing a settlement outside of court. The warning letter will explain why the employer believes the claim to be legally flawed and details the consequences of pursuing a tribunal.
The tribunal panel will consist of three people who are known as the tribunal panel. The panel is made up of the employment judge who is responsible for the tribunal, a representative from the employer’s organisation and a representative for the employee.
Evidence will be presented under oath and rules must be followed about who can speak at any point in time. Most employment tribunals are open to the public so somebody who is thinking about bringing a claim against their employer to a tribunal can go to one and observe first to understand what is involved.
There is no fee payable to raise a claim but you will need to budget to pay any fees for legal representation, should you choose to engage a solicitor to act on your behalf, either in court or in writing a Warning Letter.